Climate modulates internal wave activity in the Northern South China Sea
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1002/2014GL062522
Internal waves (IWs) generated in the Luzon Strait propagate into the Northern South China Sea (NSCS), enhancing biological productivity and affecting coral reefs by modulating nutrient concentrations and temperature. Here we use a state-of-the-art ocean data assimilation system to reconstruct water column stratification in the Luzon Strait as a proxy for IW activity in the NSCS and diagnose mechanisms for its variability. Interannual variability of stratification is driven by intrusions of the Kuroshio Current into the Luzon Strait and freshwater fluxes associated with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. Warming in the upper 100m of the ocean caused a trend of increasing IW activity since 1900, consistent with global climate model experiments that show stratification in the Luzon Strait increases in response to radiative forcing. IW activity is expected to increase in the NSCS through the 21st century, with implications for mitigating climate change impacts on coastal ecosystems.